Long-term cooperation between Sirris and the brand new Flanders Make


Manufacturing industry reaps the harvest

The time has finally come: Flanders Make officially got going yesterday. Which is very good news for the manufacturing industry in our country. Companies in the manufacturing industry now have their own strategic research centre that combines and expands the resources and knowledge of FMTC, Flanders' DRIVE and the laboratories of the five Flemish universities. This initiative can support these companies by way of supporting pre-market surveys in order to reinforce their international competitive position. This is being done at the initiative of Agoria with the support from Sirris. 

Herman Derache, Managing Director of Sirris, explained the need for a strategic research centre in Flanders: "Thanks to a greater atmosphere of competitiveness, combining forces in company-oriented research is going to be an important aspect for the future of our manufacturing industry. Until now, research in this area in Flanders was far too fragmented. Apart from that, the need for increased levels of research to meet the technical requirements of companies continues growing. The arrival of Flanders Make will make it possible to implement the necessary product and process innovations in companies much more quickly." 

"Not that there weren't any initiatives before now; for example Sirris was already partly involved in what would happen with Flanders Make, just like FMTC, Flanders' DRIVE and the various Flemish universities. Combining these forces was the logical next step. When the Flemish government indicated that it was prepared to join in, we didn't hesitate: Sirris took the lead by initially bringing a consortium of the right partners around the table, then working out a shared vision and corresponding business plan and finally giving support to the plan at government level. Sirris considered itself to be in the best position with respect to trust among the partners and was not simply carrying out a trial. Five years earlier we had the experience of setting up the successful Strategic Initiative Materials (SIM) for materials research funding." 

What does Flanders Make stand for?

The manufacturing industry strategic research centre is devoted to product and process innovation and works in close cooperation with around sixty, leading technology companies, 'early adopters', in the Flemish manufacturing industry. Technological research and innovation in mechatronics, product development methods and advanced manufacturing are all guided by the challenges and needs for and from the industry and form the basis. 

By 2018, more than 300 researchers will be collaborating as a unique community with a common industrial research agenda. Flanders Make has locations in Lommel, Diepenbeek and Leuven and also at the five Flanders universities. 

Sirris as a 'technology adoption aid'

However, the valorization of the research results does not stop with the direct involvement of the technology leaders; Flanders Make generic research results and competences will be made available to all companies within the broader manufacturing industry. Sirris is absolutely cut out for this challenging role: as a collective centre by and for the technology industry it will ensure that the results that Flanders Make achieves go much further than the sixty active participating companies and continue on through into its traditional services, such as technology consultancy, collective research, implementation support and demonstration equipment, to more than 3,000 other manufacturing companies in Belgium. 

Together with Agoria, Sirris launched the Made Different programme in 2012, which helped to transform businesses in the manufacturing industry to become 'Factories of the Future'. New research output from Flanders Make regarding technology that is needed by the factory of the future will find rapid, appropriate entrance to the full target group via channels such as Made Different. 

In order to make this happen in an efficient and effective way, the Sirris and Flanders Make experts will work together closely and share the buildings and the research and demonstration facilities at the Sirris locations in Diepenbeek and Leuven. Ensuring that Flanders Make makes the best start as possible, Sirris has temporarily detached some of its top experts to it. This means that the new initiative can fully utilise Sirris' experience and contacts with companies. 

Strength in unity

In times of economic crisis and enormous challenges for companies, Flanders Make and the collaboration model with companies, universities and diverse partners such as Sirris, is the most appropriate action. Targeted research will safeguard the long-term prospects of the manufacturing industry in our region in an effective manner. 

Among the participating companies this must initially result in specific applications for machinery, vehicles, vehicle components and high-tech production systems.

Moreover, the research centre is strongly dedicated to trans-border and international innovation collaboration and participation in European research projects so that it can become an excellent research centre within a European context. This way it can bring the international knowledge available in this domain to the manufacturing industry. 

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